ransomware water utility

Critical East Coast Water Utility Company Crippled by Sophisticated Ransomware Attack

Criminals have shown a tendency to deploy major attacks during troublesome times. Hurricane Florence wreaked havoc in the US not that long ago. It now appears one local water utility company is being targeted in a major ransomware attack. It is a very troublesome development, for many different reasons.

Ransomware Attacks Remain Problematic

The East Coast of the United States suffered quite a bit of damage courtesy of Hurricane Florence. Although the country has seen its fair share of hurricanes, cleaning up after the fact is always a problematic venture. It seems criminals know those struggles all too well and try to exploit lingering weaknesses during this most opportune time.

One of such weaknesses comes in the form of Onslow Water and Sewer Authority. Not because the company is doing anything wrong, but rather because their system has been targeted by ransomware. This is a very problematic development, primarily because Onslow Water and Sewer Authority is considered to be a critical water service for servicing victims of Hurricane Florence.

According to company officials, a sophisticated ransomware attack has crippled their internal systems rather severely. Limited computer capabilities are still being used today, and no customer data has been compromised in the process. However, it will have an impact on how ONWASA will run their day-to-day service for the coming weeks.

So far the perpetrators have only contacted ONWASA once via email. In this message, the attackers explain what has happened and how they expect to receive a Bitcoin payment prior to restore system functions. At the time of writing, company officials did not disclose how much money the criminals were looking to collect, though it seems no money has changed hands to date.

It is interesting to note how the first signs of a ransomware attack became apparent nearly two weeks ago. The virus, which is dubbed Emotet, is a form of malware which can cause all kinds of havoc if left untouched. However, no one expected it to turn into a full-fledged ransomware attack, which is part of the reason why this attack is so bothersome. Containing this threat has been a bit of a problem, as the malware’s native features allow it to spread throughout entire networks fairly quickly.

For the time being, it remains to be seen how the utility will tackle this issue moving forward. Any disruption of their service at this time is unfortunate, to say the least. With Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael causing havoc in quick succession, it is evident any utility provider will need to remain accessible. One can only hope ONWASA can resolve the matter swiftly, as their services are crucial to thousands of families.

Image(s): Shutterstock.com

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